Gamache Series Open Discussion

Join us here in The Bistro for a discussion on the entire Gamache series. Feel free to ask or answer any questions about any of the books or the series as a whole.

Paul Hochman

Discussion on “Gamache Series Open Discussion

  1. Millie says:

    Yes, a cruise sounds delightful, but when my hubby’s car is in the shop he takes my wheels and I’m house bound. Not a problem when I could hardly walk, much less drive. Yesterday I did have my vehicle so picked up my DIL (who has written 15 books – ahh youth filled with encouragement) and we went to the first writers conference held at the fine arts center of a local college to listen. Most authors couldn’t hold a candle to Louise but I kept that to myself. :-)

    The really terrific part came afterwards. I walked up to the woman organizing the event, asked if they ever did bilingual events and told her of mom’s book of poetry and the International Book Fair we had just attended. “As a matter of fact, we want to next year.” I’m ‘booked’ for April to present mom’s poetry and talk about her, that’s it’s never too late to pursue a new creative adventure… The school has a great fine arts program and wants to show students ‘success stories’.

    Then I introduced her to my DIL. Poor thing turned beet red. Years ago she had taken only one class at this college, having gone to UCF by Orlando. The class was on self publishing. She remembered my DIL and asked her to participate in an upcoming panel discussion. But I almost passed out when my DIL turned the table on me and told the organizer I could probably finish my own book for the April event. And I thought October was too soon! It’s a testament to how much we care about each other that we’re still on speaking terms. lol…

    You should be proud of yourself helping others launch their books. It’s a lot of work but very satisfying, indeed.

  2. Millie says:

    Thank you Anna, for your kindness in updating the Bistro on my behalf. I really need to work on finding time for all the things and people important to me and not focus on just one thing only one thing for weeks or even months at a time. But I do have moments I’m 5 years old again around my mom…

    I haven’t completely caught up reading all the posts, but hope all with aging family members are coping, and everyone is doing well.

    I better go to my desk now and seriously pick up where I left off writing… I’ve come to realize all I have to do is ‘show up’ at my desk every day and let the story unfold before I have the entire story mapped out in my head. It’s a lot like life itself. Just take it one day at a time.

  3. Julie says:

    Millie, the V & A lives up to every one of your dreams! Used to be, you could go into the sampler study room at any time, pull out one of the samplers from the drawers, take it to a table and study it all you wanted. I was one of the very last people to get to do that, as right before my visit, they had shut it down for “refurbishing”, but since they hadn’t actually started yet, the guard was wheedled into letting a group of us go in for just a half hour. We ran in and pulled out the couple of samplers that just HAD to be seen, and then whatever else we could see in the time. It was a rush in more ways than one, hahaha. Now, you have to make an appointment, but it is well worth it. You need to make an appointment at the Fitzwilliam museum in Cambridge, too, as well as the Embroiderer’s Guild, and The Royal School of Needlework – both those are housed in Hampton Court, which is wonderful fun to look through. I couldn’t get an appointment at the Royal School, even though I had asked for one about a year in advance – but everywhere else, I was able to get one. In fact, I did a blog while I was over there. I see my other post was finally put up, so I’ll post the link here. In case you’re interested – I did mostly needlework tours, but a few other fun things, like the theatre and afternooon tea. I love England, and we were 5 weeks in England (four of them in London, and then one week in Yorkshire, for a needlework course).

  4. Julie says:

    Oh, Millie – what a wonderful thing to go with your DIL to the writer’s conference. I love how encouraging the organizer was, and on the lookout for new talent! Wonderful!

  5. Hi, to all! I’ve been quiet for a while. No big problems. Just the quieter side of me. I have read and reread the postings. I’m thrilled with Millie’s story of her trip to Puerto Rico. How wonderful that you helped your Mother to have such an experience. If not for you, none of it would have happened.
    I just can’t wait for your book. You already have opportunities to showcase it ! Having a deadline set puts you in the situation of an author with a deadline for publication. No pressure there.
    Your DIL is talented too. Do your grandchildren show writing ability or are they too young yet ?
    What an exciting time in your life. I’m happy and thrilled for you !

  6. Julie, I loved reading about your experiences in England. Needlework tours ! You must have seen some beautiful pieces. I have learned so much from my fellow Three Piners. I appreciate that you share your experiences. Four weeks in London……I would have eyestrain from trying to see everything possible.
    You are generous to help others with their books. It must be very rewarding.
    Thanks for the link to the Ball. Being in the midst of so many people dressed in beautiful period clothing dancing to the music of the era must have been like a trip back in time.
    Your dress was beautiful. I showed the links to my Sister and she was amazed. She was really interested. She seldom has interest or enthusiasm for anything and I was elated to see her reaction. October was a bad month for her as it marked the 4th anniversary of her husband’s auto accident and death 10 days later. November 7th would have been his 98th birthday and then yesterday was Veterans’ Day and he was a career soldier. Don’t intend to sound maudlin but I wanted you to know that your sharing had a farther reaching outcome than just sharing with The Bistro Group. Thanks.

    • Julie says:

      Barbara – so glad to see you posting. I was starting to get worried that nobody was posting, even though I knew we’d have some fall-off after we’d discussed the book initially, and then people get busy – I know that Anna is trying to edit while dealing with a busy-busy life, and planning her trip to North America! She’ll be in Whistler this winter, but I’m afraid I don’t remember when she leaves…

      Thank you so much for letting me know about your sister – I had such a wonderful time in England, and originally wrote the blog the way I usually keep a journal when I travel. I wanted to be able to share with my needlework-happy friends as it was happening, and it was such a huge trip for both my husband and myself. Still, we had an ITINERARY to try to keep to – we had so many appointments that couldn’t be missed, and so we soldiered on at times… I would need at least two weeks just to see everything I wanted to see in the V and A – of course, a lot of it, I’d want to see twice, hahaha. I tried everything to get my eyes full, but jet-lag was such a problem, it was over a week before we could even sleep through the night. And I still drag around some after every time change! That doesn’t make a lot of sense, because it’s only one hour – but what a difference it makes for me now. When I was younger, it didn’t really affect me. I’ve spent the last week sleeping til noon every day and being awake til at least 3 – I need to try to move back a little, and maybe get up by 10… The next two weeks should do it – I’ve got tons of appointments – they don’t start til around noonish, so not at the crack of dawn, but still, it will force me to at least get up in the morning, hahaha.

      I hope all is well with you, Barbara. I’m sensing something – sometimes, when I’m quiet, it’s because something’s wrong. Maybe not any big thing, but a lot of little things? Just a sadder time of year, maybe, as everything is dying for the winter… and of course, it looks like we are in for another horrible winter. The weather these days seems hell-bent for scraping us off the face of the earth – can’t say I blame it, we haven’t been very good stewards…

      I’m rambling now, so I’ll stop. But I’m just so pleased to hear from you again…

  7. Hi, Anna. Think of you working away on your books. You had gone directly to the draft of the 3rd book after writing the draft to the 2nd you told us. I imagine you are busily creating. What a fun and exciting time for you.
    Hope your Mother and Father are doing well. My MIL still manages to have some days where she responds to questions like ” Do you hurt?” Or such that she answers yes or no. She seems content and eats well. We really can’t expect more.
    Good and caring thoughts to you.

  8. Anna says:

    Hi all. It has been an exhausting time so that is why I have been offline. Dad had a fall a couple of weeks ago in the short time I was out seeing mum. He wasnt basly hurt but I had to get the paramedics to help get him up and it was very distressing for all. It meant I couldn’t leave the house at all which is impossible. He moved into a home this week, initially for respite but I cant see how he would get home again fortunately he is happy enough and has had two scrabble games. It isnt perfect but it became necessary.
    I have restarted writing. Heading toward 10000 words on book 3. It will get better but it has been too draining to do much.
    I only briefly scanned the posts as I am on my phone. I have minutes as I wait at school for pickup. I will look and hopefully respond later tonight. Even though I dont have to be home for dad i have hardly been home getting done everything I couldn’t over the last few months. Sending love to you all.

  9. Anna says:

    I typed my last post on my phone. Can you tell? It’s full of errors and reads poorly but I wanted to say hi.

    I have been reading your blog of England Julie. It is so well done and the photos are stunning too. I love clotted cream and scones. Yum yum. I have been to a few of the same places but not that many. I lived in London for a couple of moths but didn’t end up doing all the tourist spots. I did see the Mousetrap though….that was over 25 years ago!

    I am glad Julie’s writing cheered your sister Barbara. There is no time limit on grief but good on you for trying to find things to interest her. That isn’t easy when someone hasn’t shown much enthusiasm for life. I hope the weather isn’t getting you down. Did you find a light box?

    My mum isn’t good of late. She has had a lot of hip pain. We have increased her pain meds as she was crying in agony and it was horrible. That was the other drama I had this week along with settling dad into the home. The good thing is she was much better today but very sleepy. The nurse was concerned but I would much rather she slept . She has cycles with the dementia where she is agitated at times and then sleepy at other times so it may be a combination effect.

    I am happy the weather is miserable. Sorry Julie, but we need the snow and I have being doing a snow dance. It’s my fault entirely because it is working! Whistler is opening their season a week early. El NiƱo has been such an unknown quantity where the snow is concerned. It has brought moisture but not always the right temps to drop the freezing level. Hopefully when we arrive in January it will be spectacular. I wish we had longer then I could have popped down and bought you the coffee I owe you but that may have to wait until I am fully in country next year.

    I was exercising hard to prepare for skiing but I was sick for a few weeks and with everything else going on so I stopped. Now I feel like I am starting from scratch again. But the snow has enthused me so I will make an effort.

    Isn’t Millie doing great! You are Millie. I can’t wait to read your book but in English. I promise to give it a go in Spanish at some point. I will use Duolingo in preparation! Your mum has been a stunning literary success but only because she has had you. We appreciate the efforts you made. I think your mum does too but she doesn’t express it. Don’t worry, you are acknowledged and understood by us.

    Cathryne….are you ok? Whatever is going on for you, my love and prayers are flowing in your direction.

  10. Julie says:

    Anna – such a time you’ve had! Oh my – both parents needing you so fully has been so draining on you, I can tell. Thankfully, your indomitable spirit shines through. I don’t know how you find the energy, and clearly, getting sick in the middle of it means you stretched yourselves too far, but what a lot you have had to deal with! I’m glad your mum is getting some rest – I always think that when we sleep that much, it means we need rest, though of course, it can also be symptomatic of so many other things… But I think that rest above all else will help in some cases at least. And for your dad to go through such a lot, too. I know it had to be hard for you to get him settled, but I’m so glad he seems to be enjoying having some company and playing scrabble. As life gets narrower, I hope I can continue to find small joys to keep me at least pleasant to be around. I know it’s hard.

    When I was a young wife for the first time, we lived across the hall from an elderly couple. He would often fall in the night either on his way to or from the bathroom, and they would wait til morning and knock on our door to ask for help to get him up. I was home alone one morning and couldn’t lift him up. He was a thin, frail old man and probably didn’t weigh as much as I did, but when he can’t help, which he couldn’t, it’s just dead weight, and impossible to lift. I felt so bad when they finally realized that they couldn’t live in their own home anymore, and they moved into a facility. They had so wanted their independence. It’s shameful that we’ve attached such stigma to places, and I am really hopeful that when my time comes I will be able to enjoy what is offered, as the seniors homes are so much better these days.

    Why do I always go off on tangents? So hard to tell with me, hahaha. I’m so happy to have you guys posting – thanks to Millie for getting us started again!

    Here comes another tangent. In the Jane Austen group, we have a lovely lady who is always dressed in something vaguely vintage. She does her own sewing, and it’s couture-quality clothing that she wears. Her daughter persuaded her to do an exhibit of her “life’s work” – for 50 years, she has been “costuming” – making clothes with vintage materials in the style of different eras in history. There are 40 dresses spanning from the 1740’s to the 1920’s – all stunning! I went with friends yesterday and was so completely blown away by her work. The 18th Century pieces are amazing – I wish you could see pictures, but photography wasn’t allowed – I’m hoping because we will be able to see a book coming out of it. I intend to push for that – I know they have a professional photographer who is taking photographs – so I’m hoping it means a book is in the offing. I will lend whatever help I can, of course. The exhibit is just through this weekend – a short 5 days – but so beautiful, and thankfully, lots of people were there when we were there. I’m docenting for her on Sat. and Sun., so get to see them again – yay! Here’s a link to the website with a few teaser photos:

  11. Anna says:

    Hi Julie. The photos are stunning. Since watching shows like Miss Fisher, I have a much greater appreciation of the art of costume design. I am not one who sews, hemming pants is about it, but I am currently trying to work out how to make a support top for Erin to help hold her shoulders and clavicles in place. There are commercial products but they don’t work for her particular problems. So have a giggle at me trying to do that with no clue but a passion to help. Fortunately her physio has some skill so together we will manage. Sourcing the fabric is the hardest, it has to stretch in one direction only.

    Dad has just rung twice for things he wants but otherwise he is settling. He actually has more independence in many ways in the home and it is a lovely place. A far cry from the Lino floored warehouses of my youth. It looks like a country hotel with artworks and chandeliers and a good coffee machine. They also have morning and afternoon tea delivered to them with cake or slice. There is a physio and a massage therapist and aromatherapy. The bathroom is much easier to use and he can mobilize more as there is always someone around. He woke up in the night and they brought him hot chocolate!

    I have been overstretched though. This week I slept a lot and it is hard to get used to the house. Erin says it seems very quiet and empty. The dog isn’t coping at all so there are little doggy disasters to clean up on a regular basis. We will all settle into our new routines eventually but it is hard.

    I think your neighbors were lucky to have the help of you and your husband Julie but it must have been so difficult for all. I hope they found a place of peace when they moved. It really isn’t necessarily bad, just different.

    Oh dear, watching the news from Paris. Don’t look at the TV Barbara. Sending my thoughts to the Parisians. Such a lovely place.

  12. Cathryne Spencer says:

    Oh Anna, hot chocolate and scrabble for your dad! It made me so happy to read that. I hope he continues to settle in well. Can you take your dog to visit? When my dad was in his last months and bedridden, I was allowed to bring his dog to visit every day. It was the highlight of the day for both. When my mom was in the hospital recently, a social worker came in with her little dog hanging over her shoulder. I ran out and asked if she would come into Mom’s room and she petted and petted the dog with delight. I thought of Linda Maday who, I think, takes her therapy dogs to visit.
    I just haven’t had words to share the hard times with my mom right now, but they are very much like those described by Anna, Millie, Barbara and others in the Bistro, even early in the reread, before the Bistro. I know it is part of the human condition. I have had many conversations with you all in my mind, and that helps amazingly! Also reading Louise’s so wise and sincere sharing of her joys and challenges. I love to hear what pleasure she gets in going Three Pines. I started over listening to the books and they keep me from feeling overwhelmed, in a place where kindness exists. And, wonderful, so thought-provoking writing.
    Thanks for the support, I feel it even though posting seems too hard right now. Congratulations on the wonderful things you are doing! I love reading about them.

  13. Cathryne Spencer says:

    Julie, I have an almost mystical respect for ” a good night’s sleep”!

  14. Anna says:

    Dear Cathryne, I understand completely when it is just too hard to post but we are thinking of you all the time. We can the dog to visit whenever we want. I hope to do so tomorrow. It has been a big day for other emotional reasons. It does seem ongoing but nothing compared to our French friends.

    Sitting with you in the Bistro with a hor chocolate and calming thoughts. Sending love to all but especially you Cathryne. Thank you for mustering the strength to write. Xxx

  15. Julie says:

    Paris. I don’t even have words. This is still all so hard to believe that our world has changed so. I’m set enough in my ways now, that visiting other countries seems far beyond my reach, as the world seems such a dangerous place these days. Another day, I’ll feel differently, but today… I’m very grateful for my warm and comfortable home, and that I have a place like the Bistro to come to.

    Cathryne, I am so sorry for all the overwhelming things that are going on for you right now, but so happy you can take solace in imagined conversations here in the Bistro. Now, if I say something stupid in one of those conversations, pay me no mind, right? That would be just like me, hahaha.

    Anna – sounds like the poor dog is having the worst of it, but visits will, no doubt, make the transition easier for both him(?) and your dad. I’ve never heard of a cup of tea and a slice – does that mean pie? Whatever it is, it sounds like a lovely place. They really are a far cry from what kinds of places were available even a short while ago, aren’t they? You can probably all thank us baby boomers for that – we had to make sure they were ready for us, hahaha.

    I laughed at your description of your sewing adventures – sounds like me – I don’t even do hems – just roll up the waistband if things are too long. (Hey, it worked in school!) I can embellish things to beat the band, but the original sewing – not so much… I hope you are able to come up with something for Erin. I know it sounds strange, but the stays that go under the 19th C. costumes are so comfortable and supportive, it’s not funny. They also don’t allow you to slouch, so are very good for your posture, which is good for the dresses…

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